After 7 long years…I mean MONTHS of staying home, we decided we felt safe and secure enough to venture someplace new. Travel during a Global Pandemic is certainly not to be taken lightly. I made sure to do my research using government sites such as The CDC and local state sites such as Coronavirus.health.ny.gov. I encourage everyone thinking of traveling during this time to do their due diligence and PLEASE follow ALL safety precautions that have been put in place.
The Finger Lakes region of NY, USA is comprised of eleven long narrow lakes that, you guessed it, resemble fingers. In fact Native American legend tells of the Great Spirit looking down favorably on the region and offering a blessing by placing his fingers upon the land. Thus creating impressions which filled with water to create the lakes….A beautiful story, but doesn’t account for the extra lake ?
The area is well known for its vineyards, it’s State Parks, and its charm. It is also home to Cornell University, Syracuse University and Ithaca College, along with several smaller schools of higher education.
Where to stay:
There are so many small towns in this region that it can be daunting to choose a location to call home for your stay. The bigger towns and cities such as Auburn, Canandaigua, Geneva and Ithaca will definitely have more options for lodging, dining and amenities. However during this summer of COVID-19, I was really looking for a quiet, low key get away without crowds.
Cue Hammondsport, NY! In beginning my search for where to stay on TripAdvisor, as I always do, I came across some information on Hammondsport. As soon as I read that Hammondsport had been named “The Coolest Small Town in America” by Budget Travel in 2012…well I was sold! In fact Hammondsport was put on the map by motorcycle and aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss in the early 1900s when he became the fastest man on earth and a bit later the “Father of Naval Aviation”. It was Curtiss that brought aeronautical and dirigible companies to Hammondsport beginning around 1907 . This led to the area becoming known as The Cradle of Aviation.
In general we prefer smaller boutique hotels and inns to larger, chain or business class accommodations. And that’s just what you’ll find in Hammondsport. There is a wide range of choices between Inns, Bed & Breakfasts, AirBnB, and even a couple of midsize hotels. I use TripAdvisor to do my research and read reviews. I will typically then book directly through the hotel or inn’s website for the best pricing.
I chose the Moonshadow Bed and Breakfast based upon their abundance of rave reviews and frankly the friendly nature of the owners Jeanette and Steve who bought the property just a few years ago and have created a unique, warm and welcoming environment.
In addition to the eclectic yet soothing decor ( it’s a bit Southwestern, a bit Zen, and a bit country farmhouse rolled into one!), our room named SOL, and on the first floor for anyone with mobility issues, had a beautifully updated bathroom with oversized shower. High end toiletries and luxurious bedding added to our comfort.
Included in your stay ( 2 night minimum) is a fabulous breakfast each morning, lovingly prepared by the owners using local farm fresh ingredients. Even this non breakfast eater was cleaning her plate!
The grounds of Moonshadow are just as impressive, with a sloping lawn overlooking Keuka Lake complete with a tree swing, chaise lounges and a fire pit area for cool evenings.
As an important note, masks were required at all times inside the inn’s common areas and hand sanitizer was readily available. There are just 5 guest rooms total, and all guests complied with the safety precautions. Breakfast was well spaced with each party/ room having their own table to dine at. Very important details during these unprecedented times.
Things to Do:
One can not visit The Finger Lakes without visiting at least a winery or two! Keuka Lake has it’s own designated Wine Trail . Check the website for maps, information, events and up to date COVID-19 news.
Right in Hammondsport, I can recommend:
Next on our list of Things to Do was Watkins Glen State Park. This oasis lies right in the middle of the town by the same name. The park is small, only about 2 miles of land but it contains some 19 waterfalls along its Gorge Trail. During our time, masks were mandatory and the trails were one way to avoid crowding. It was the perfect way to work off some of the wine and food calories. There are campsites available and day passes to enjoy the Olympic sized pool.
Saving the BEST for last! The absolute highlight of our visit was the surprise SUNRISE HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE that I arranged through Liberty Balloon Company as an anniversary gift for my husband . This family business has been ballooning together since 1977 and was founded by a former US Navy Aviator. Lance, our pilot was one of two sons in the family business. We met on the lawn of an Inn in the town of Canandaigua just before sunrise. We were able to watch the balloons being set up and inflated while learning the history of the business and of aviation in the area. And then it was Up, Up and Away…
This was truly a bucket list experience for me and if you’re like minded, I highly recommend it!
Other things to do in the area :
Visit the Curtiss Museum of Aviation, visit the Finger Lakes Boating Museum
Enjoy swimming, seaplane rides, paddle boarding, kayaks, and fishing . There are typically several small festivals and events throughout the year…but due to COVID-19, check local sites like Corning & The Southern Finger Lakes before planning.
You’ll find several restaurant options in Hammondsport, everything from pizza to fine dining, most are in the downtown area surrounding a lovely park area which had live music playing the nights we were there. Most restaurants had outdoor seating available and were following all the current safety guidelines. All in all, we found the area to be the perfect place for a safe and relaxing long weekend get away! I’d love to hear if you’ve been to the Finger Lakes ?
Thank you for reading and Ciao for Now~